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Why Freddie Freeman plays for Canada in the World Baseball Classic

2023 World Baseball Classic Pool C: Game 3 Team Great Britain v. Team Canada Photo by Daniel Shirey/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Being given the opportunity to represent your country playing the game you love is an opportunity any player would dream of, but for Freddie Freeman, the reason is heartfelt and sentimental.

Despite being a native of California, Freeman is representing Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic for the second time in his playing career— a decision he made to honor his parents, who were both born and raised in Canada. Freeman was just 10 years old when his mother passed away from skin cancer, and he has kept his mother’s impact and memory with him in every single game, both spiritually and physically.

“That’s the reason I play...,” said Freeman, “it’s to honor my mom... I wear sleeves every game. That is for my mom because she passed away of skin cancer... I wear a cross around my neck that unscrews and has her hair inside of it... pretty much everything I do is for my mom and this is what I feel is right.”

Freeman has received support from not only his fellow Dodgers teammates playing for Team U.S.A., but from the those playing across the World Baseball Classic en masse. Both Mookie Betts and Trea Turner have praised Freeman on his decision to honor his family’s legacy. Jesse Rogers of ESPN shares how both Turner and Betts felt about Freeman’s decision to forego playing for a country he’s lived the majority of his life in.

“‘We’d love to have him over here, but I know he’s [played for Canada] and he sticks with it,’ Turner said... Said Betts: ‘That describes what Freddy is all about. And if I get on first base, yeah, we’ll have some fun. Freddie and I have that bond, but that bond with a mom is special.’”